6 minutes read
18 Dec, 2020
Boat Buying , Boating
By Adam Cox
Should I Sell my Boat through a Broker?We will begin this blog on a light hearted note, the good news. And then unfortunately, as is so often the case, there is bad news to share as well. Not to worry though, we will be following that up with plenty of useful information that you need, and that all boat buyers and owners should have – this being about making use of a boat broker. Once you have this information at your fingertips then you will be very well placed to ensure that this kind of bad news does not happen to you.
I’m sure we have all been present at a gathering, such as having supper with friends, where someone has popped out a bit of Latin or a famous quotation, or we may have done this ourselves. It does add a little bit of panache to our status, and our ever striving ego’s, so why not.
Here’s one that you probably know, and it could really be the headline of this blog as it is crucially important in the context of buying a new boat: “caveat emptor.” Now it’s all very well to pop out little ditties like this but you can boost your standing considerably if you know the following details as well. This saying is the short form of Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit ("Let a purchaser beware, for he ought not to be ignorant of the nature of the property which he is buying from another party.")
To add the light hearted bit that we promised earlier, here are two more sayings, or phrases, that people in the main either don’t know (the former) and get wrong (the latter), you can do the research yourself on the latter one. Firstly, “carpe diem” is actually part of an ode that a chap called Horace wrote in about 50 BC and the phrase is part of the longer carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero (“Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow (the future))". And secondly, Gandhi did not say the words, “be the change you wish to see in the world,” he said something else.
Here at Burton Waters we were saddened to hear the news on the 11th December that a boat buyer had been defrauded of €7,500 when attempting to purchase a boat. There are a number of ways that these tricksters use, and in this case they had copied pictures of one of our boats from one of the broker sites and created their own site impersonating themselves as a broker.
It would seem that this is becoming more prevalent as the fraudsters become more advanced, and it is so quick, easy, and cheap to build a fake website or landing page these days. Here are some tips and guidelines to look out for, and we also provide all the benefits that you will gain from making use of a Boat Broker.
The Benefits of Using a Boat Broker: the experience of Val Wyatt Marine
Back in 2018 this exact same scam was experienced by Val Wyatt Marine and when they investigated further they discovered that the process of buying a boat all seems to be very convincing up to the point where the fraudster then:
- Advises that the boat cannot be viewed due to staff shortages
- They request a 60% “fully refundable” deposit to be paid, at which point they promise to deliver the boat within 2-3 days, providing a 48 hour inspection period during which you can return the boat to them
- They don’t personalise their emails with names, or provide a phone number
Having unfortunately heard these stories far too often, it should not be surprising that we and our fellow marine dealer fraternity suggest that on the path to buying a boat that you should make it a pre-requisite to use a boat broker. Having said that though, we know that this will not be everyone’s preference and so here are some tips, gained from our experience and the likes of Val Wyatt Marine, and others:
- It is not a good idea to pay over any monies before viewing the boat: a genuine seller will not stop you from viewing a boat and is more likely to be eager for you to do so. If you are told you can’t view the boat, walk away. We normally request a holding deposit if a price is agreed and it is subject to viewing
- Make sure that you speak to the seller: the scam websites like to operate via email only and don’t provide a phone number. This is a definite tell, and even more so if they do not sign off their emails with their names
- Top tip - buy through an established or recommended broker: brokers who belong to established bodies like British Marine’s BRBA (Boat Retailers & Brokers Association) or ABYA (Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents) have standards of conduct and regulations that must be upheld by members which offer additional protection to you
- Ask for a boat survey: this is a general tip for all boat buyers and as well as highlighting potential problems, it will make fraudulent sellers nervous and you’ll probably find they will stop contacting you
- Make sure that correct title documents are available: even having seen the boat, you still need to have all the correct title and VAT documents and more. Knowing the person is the legal owner is very important. A professional broker will help you with this. (Next month Burton Waters will publish a blog providing details of all the documentation and paperwork required when buying a boat)
- Confirm bank details verbally: if you have received bank details for a company via email double check these verbally and directly with the bank if possible. Also, make sure your Broker runs a protected Client Account and holds Professional Indemnity before you place any funds in their client account
- Another important one, and one often discarded by too many people – how does this deal ‘feel’, what does your intuition, your gut say, too good to be true? If in doubt, walk away. Rather lose the idea of a bargain, than the actual and physical loss of money as the victim of a scam
The above tips will help you if you have decided to go it alone, or even to only initiate your purchase. Sadly though the fraudsters are becoming increasingly more clever, so if the worst does happen, at the bottom of this blog are two links for you to report a case of fraud.
Other Benefits of Using a Boat Broker
There are far more benefits to making use of a Boat Broker than you probably realise at first. Here is a short list.
Some of the benefits of using a professional Boat Broker are:
- In a previous blog we highlighted the fact that when considering buying a boat there are at least 34 points to be considered, and the details around these span more than 5 separate blogs. All of this information our Burton Waters brokers have at their fingertips and speaking to one of them will save you a considerable amount of time, uncertainty, and ultimately expenditure.
- A professional boat broker will work on your behalf to:
- Help you determine if the boat you have in mind is the right one for you based upon your particular circumstances
- Tell you whether or not it represents good value
- Give you the latest information relating to the current market conditions
- Provide benchmarks and comparisons, being familiar with similar boats and their recent sale prices
- Advise on what offers the vendor may accept
- Indicate all of the paperwork needed to check that the boat has a clean and unencumbered title, as well as showing payment of VAT where appropriate
- Other important areas where our boat brokers will be able to assist you will be:
- If you intend to apply for finance for your boat then we are able to advise you on the best possible courses of action to follow, which will assist in providing extra leverage when negotiating prices
- We have a sound knowledge on marine insurance, surveys, and VAT requirements and will be able to offer recommendations for specialist marine lenders
- We take the position of intermediary between yourself and the seller thus ensuring that the negotiations move forward smoothly and to a successful conclusion. Our experience allows us to foresee possible stumbling blocks and deal with these proactively
- Should you be interested in doing training courses or to further your boating knowledge we can recommend local training centres to you
- Lastly, we use a client account for your funds, and ensure that, on completion of the purchase, any existing loan or other encumbrances are paid off. This safeguard is absolutely imperative to both yourself and the vendor. This is where it all has the potential to go seriously wrong in private transactions which do not involve an ABYA trained professional
The Benefits of Using a Boat Broker: Who to Report a Fraud to?
Here is a link to an excellent 14 page guideline document on making use of Boat and Yacht Brokers compiled by RYA (Royal Yachting Association): https://www.rya.org.uk/sitecollectiondocuments/legal/Web%20Documents/Legal%20Leaflets/Members%20Advice/Brokers/BUYING%20AND%20SELLING%20THROUGH%20A%20YACHT%20BROKER.pdf
You can report a fraud to:
Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
And your local trading office: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office